Why you shouldn't write your own resume

By Neil Patrick

Last week I met an old friend who was urgently hunting for a new job. He was an established professional whose employer had been restructuring and as often happens, he’d found his job no longer existed.

Naturally we talked at length about what he should do. During the conversation, he asked me if I thought it was worth him having his resume rewritten by a professional resume writer. He was sceptical to say the least. After all, this wouldn’t change any of his career accomplishments. And how would changing the wording and layout of his resume improve his prospects?

These questions proved to me that he actually didn’t understand what an expert resume writer does. It was clear also that he had misunderstood some of the basic facts of today’s job market. The relevant facts are:

  • Advertised jobs now receive on average over 200 applications – and many more for the most attractive positions. So you have to stand out 
  • On average a resume is given just 5 seconds attention by a recruiter before it is either rejected or short listed for the next stage. So your resume must deliver its message INSTANTLY 
  • Recruiters aren’t particularly interested in ALL your accomplishments – they are simply seeking the best possible fit between candidates and the job vacancy. So your resume must match the SPECIFIC job requirements

Very few job applicants are able to think like a recruiter when they are writing their own resume. They are simply too closely involved to apply the necessary hard-nosed detachment from the process. So expert AND independent input is vital.

The reality of today’s job market is that having a great career history and qualifications is simply not enough. The competition levels are just too high. You need your resume to secure the recruiter’s attention and interest in just 5 seconds. Otherwise all those hours you’ve spent agonising over it will be of no consequence. And this requires some very specific writing skills.

My friend also had the impression that resume writers applied some sort of template and that merely adopting such a template would enable him to refine his resume without spending his hard earned cash on using a professional writer. With the best writers, this simply isn’t how they go about the task. They craft each resume by working closely with you to produce a finely tuned selling document.

So I explained to him the numerous benefits of going to a professional writer. In case you are wondering, here’s what I think they are:

They are professionals in resume writing - you are not. It’s tempting to think that no-one else can understand our achievements and competencies better than ourselves. That’s true, but it misses the point. The best resumes don’t rely on detailing everything about our professional history. They are individually crafted with a single purpose – to get you the interview. Most resume writers are doing this sort of work week in week out and usually for years. This experience counts massively, because they know exactly how recruiters think and how to present the most relevant facts about you in a way which will get a recruiter’s attention.

They do not apply a universal template.
Of course I cannot verify the exact process and method that every resume writer uses. But the best will craft a unique document for you. It won’t simply be someone else’s resume adapted to contain your information, it will be individual to you and you alone. Neither will it involve tricks and ‘special’ phrases which somehow are the magical solution – because there is no magic involved, just the careful application of years of experience and accumulated knowledge.

This is simply too important to leave to chance. Let’s face it, your next job is almost certainly the most important life change you’ll undertake in the near future. And since your resume is such a critical component of a successful change, it’s a sound investment. To quote Red Adair, ‘If you think it’s expensive hiring a professional, wait till you hire an amateur’.

You have almost certainly left something important out of your resume.
I can’t tell you what this is, because it’s unique to you. But resume writers tell me again and again that every one of their clients has omitted at least one (and usually more) big selling point from their resume.

This is a selling job. It doesn’t matter what your profession is, when you are changing jobs, you have to be able to sell yourself. Fine if sales is your profession, but if you aren’t a sales professional, you’ll definitely need help from someone who is. Sales, like any other skill, is a specialism which involves the application of specific knowledge. Resume writers have practised this art over and over.

They understand how different recruiters think and behave. Let’s say you are looking to move to a mature global blue chip firm. The resume you should present for this is completely different to the resume you’ll need to get hired by a newer entrepreneurial business, which in turn is completely different to the resume you’ll need if you are looking to move into the public service sector. A professional writer knows how to adapt your resume to these different audiences.

They often have great professional contacts they can introduce you to. This is one of the hidden benefits. It’s a natural by product of what resume writers do. They tend to work for more senior professionals. This means they have a great personal network of key senior people (often former clients) some of whom may well be excellent contacts for you. I know of many instances where such introductions have resulted in people being hired.

Your resume is the foundation of a great Linkedin profile. I have talked about the importance of Linkedin in many other posts on this blog. And how many times I see sub-optimal profiles. Whilst a professionally written resume isn’t enough on it’s own to optimise your Linkedin profile, it will give you the material you need to massively improve your Linkedin profile with just a little cutting and pasting.

So I hope the above is food for thought and has perhaps changed your idea of what a professional resume writer can do for you. My friend has certainly changed his mind and I’ve introduced him to a top resume writer who is hard at work with him as I write this.
You’ll appreciate from the above that not all resume writers are the same. If you are looking for a resume writer, Google will enable you to find hundreds in a few seconds. But are they any good?

One of the best resume writers in the world in my opinion, is Kim Marino at Just Resumes USA. Kim’s credentials are second to none in this field, and she's published numerous books on this topic. I can recommend Kim’s services to you without reservation. Check out her website here:

1 comment:

  1. Maybe a good idea in practice but impossible when you're unemployed I'm afraid as bills, rent etc have to take priority!